Hot Take: The MCU has created an episodic event previously reserved for television and Avengers: Infinity War is the equivalent of a season finale… an engrossing, entertaining and eventful season finale that keeps the MCU on track to dominate the box office well into the next decade.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has shown no evidence of slowing down. Avengers: Infinity War, the 19th (NINETEENTH!!!) film from the MCU, exploded at the box office. As of this writing, the film has grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, the 5th largest worldwide box office gross… and we’re only 17 days into release. Avengers: Infinity War had the biggest weekend opening both domestically ($257.7 million) and worldwide ($640.5 million) and is only slightly behind the pace of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for biggest domestic box office of all time. The financial success means very little, though, other than it guaranteeing more comic book films to come. Even without the financial success, the level of quality these films continue to produce, especially with Avengers: Infinity War arguably being the best of the 19 films from the MCU, means the MCU has managed to continue deliver high quality films at an unprecedented rate.
Reviewing Avengers: Infinity War is a lose-lose situation. It feels that way with all comic book films. There’s not only the divisiveness of comic book movies vs. the more purist of movie fans, there’s also the Marvel vs. DC debate which isn’t currently much of a debate as Marvel has trounced DC both financially and critically. No matter my opinion, someone will take issue with it. I’d be shocked if comic book fans were disappointed and surprised if the movie purist doesn’t condemn the film for continuing the ruination of modern cinema. Then there’s that DC group that I have yet to figure out.
Avengers: Infinity War is a, no pun intended, marvel. The Russo Brothers somehow work in almost every superhero we’ve been introduced to over the past 10 years, create a compelling villain with real depth and land a knockout blow of an ending that leaves you thirty for the outcome and sets up Marvel for what might be the biggest payday of all time in 2019 when the next Avengers film drops.
What works so well? Almost everything, really. There’s the right mix of action, humor, fan service and character development to deliver an epic cliffhanger and prevent the film from ever feeling overstuffed despite the fact that it is obviously as overstuffed as a film could be. We are talking about working in 20+ different superheroes into a two and a half hour movie. It’s impossible to not be overstuffed. It does, however, have the right balance to become more than just a compilation of the Marvel Universe’s greatest hits and the successful addition of Thanos (Josh Brolin) as the villain makes it that much better. Despite being the villain, Thanos’ role has a hero’s journey vibe to it which gives the character more depth than the typical comic movie villain. This is the main reason this works so well.
While Avengers: Infinity War is the embodiment of a summer blockbuster, there’s enough storyline and a grim, apocalyptic tone (that feels as real as it can when you know almost every character in this film is tied to a future sequel in the franchise) to bring it to the next level of comic book films. It puts Avengers: Infinity War into The Dark Knight/best comic book movie film conversation. It also sets up the next few announced Marvel Cinematic Universe films for success which includes Ant-Man and Wasp later this summer, Captain Marvel and the conclusion of this Avengers saga next year.
It’s not worth getting into a debate over the pending doom of the modern cinema due to the impact of these big budget comic book films. The cinema survived 1987 when Three Men and a Baby was #1 at the box office and only 238 films made it to the big screen. It survived the year 2000 when The Grinch was the #1 film at the box office and 374 films hit the cineplex. It’ll survive the box office being dominated by comic book films that gross unheard of amounts of cash.
You’ve invested much of the last decade following the MCU, it’s time for a big payoff!
You’ve been waiting for the demise of comic book films for years and refuse to contribute another cent to this ridiculousness. (You could always sneak in… they are running shows around the clock still and a showing will surely line up with you leaving another film… then you really show ’em!)